Friday, February 17, 2017

Premises In the Dark

Apologies to Pat Benatar


Re-watched Sinister the other day with Sandy. She had never seen it and needed to watch a well made horror film.

I hadn't seen it since it was in theaters in 2012, so there were several of the "gotcha" moments I had forgotten. They got me.

Which brings me to several complaints about these fright-fests.

If you have the electricity turned on in your house (and they did), why are you investigating strange noises in the night with no light but a tiny flashlight with nearly expired batteries?

Also, why are you not checking behind that door when you enter a room?

And what about that baseball bat left over from your little league days? Even the kids in "Stranger Things" had enough sense to drive four or five nails through theirs.

I can't think of a single reason why any sane person would want to go into their basement. Ever. I mean if it's flooding, call the plumber. let HIM go down there!

I won't even mention moving your family into a house where a notorious (and unsolved) murder has taken place. Don't we need a little suspension of disbelief here?

I will say that if it has been your dream to make a movie, you don't have to go around doing all that Ed Wood stuff (Bela Lugosi is dead after all). Just mention that you're making a horror film and apparently the sky will begin to rain 100's and 1000's.

It's the only explanation I can come up with for why there are SO many utterly wretched horror movies on Netflix.

That's all I have to say about that.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What Is...?

...with no other thought than to love and be loved by me. -Edgar Allan Poe

He: O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening for your voice; let me hear it.
She: Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices. -Songs 8:13-14


Let us sing of love and meditate on it, this day after Valentine's.

Let us throw away sentiment and attempt to grasp in the depths of our understanding what is real.

If perfect love casts out fear, why are you afraid?

Is it because fear is sin and we know sin touches all we do?

But isn't there a love wherein desire transcends the physical so that the very spirit within you aches for that which you love?

A place where all thought of self is cast aside and the giving of joy, pleasure, happiness becomes the sole aim , the focus, the alone source of joy, pleasure, happiness?

Can it be so?

It must be.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death....-Songs 8:6a




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Through Eyes of Faith

I opened my kitchen blind this Sabbath morning and beheld a rainbow, outlined in pastel against the gray of a partially overcast and rainy sky.

From the east the sun cast a golden glow and the bow seemed to rest in the distance on a gold-hued tree, as though the myth of rainbow's end were true.

Strangely, I had just read this sentence: "We no longer love the things we were created to love in the purity and innocence that Adam knew before the fall."

Which brought to mind a particular piece of music which I have been enjoying over the last week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhsCfnmdpDs

Such aural and visual richness has been indescribable to me, as has been the joy with I experienced it and shared it.

Surely, I thought, the writer of the sentence is wrong. Surely the love inspired by such beauty must be pure and innocent, as are the meditations upon it.

And then the rainbow. Reminding me of the first rainbow and its promise.

But "I ain't so hot," as Jimmy Cagney once observed. So even my reflections upon beauty observed are tainted somehow?

Perhaps, though, looking through eyes of faith, there can be a nearness to the wonder and awe our first parents felt when encountering the new and perfect world.

And perhaps an anticipation of all things being made new and the assurance that in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There Is a Season

...and a time to every purpose under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1b


It seems as if we have proceeded from summer directly into winter here in NW TN.

 I exaggerate (slightly?) but the turning of the leaves has been the extent of our autumnal experience in absence of the gradual decline in temperatures that is generally the norm around here.

As you see, the regularity of seasonal change is part of the pattern of our lives and so we take notice when there are perceived irregularities.

Have you noticed that there is a similar rhythm in the flow of our lives?  This is noted by the Preacher in the opening chapters of Ecclesiastes.

In case you're wondering, the beginnings of these musings are as simple as pictures on a wall. Six of them, in fact.

The first is of Joyce, Sandy and me in 19th Century regalia, a riverboat gambler and his family.

Below it is a portrait of Joyce and me, done by Sandy. We are older now, all in black against a blue background.

Below this, arrayed on either side, are four photos of each of our parents. Dads are in the uniform of the U.S. Navy and moms are depicted in their teens. All of them would have been roughly eighteen years of age.

Amazing, isn't it, to think of our parents as teenagers.

Which leads to meditations on the march of time and the nature of things (back to those seasons, hmm?)

I was blessed to be in the home of two dear friends this past Thanksgiving Day. Of all the blessings of the day, the blessing of family was most apparent. Children of children, and their children, filled the spacious home.

It is much the same at GPC. We are a young congregation (excluding myself and a couple of others). Children (and babies!) are everywhere!

It is a season for growing and learning in their lives. And the interaction between young and old is a joy to behold and be part of.

For the young parents, it is a season for creating memories, strengthening bonds of love and sacrificing that these babes might grow in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

I will admit I have wondered, watching all this over the past few months, whether God might bring someone special into my life.

And as I sit in Sunday School sharing His Word with three bright young minds, as I sit, on Sunday evenings, in a nursery crackling with youthful energy, it occurs to me:

He already has.




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heard It In a Love Song

...can't be wrong. -Toy Caldwell


I suppose it might seem odd to find the Song of Songs included in Old Testament wisdom literature.

This song, composed they say by Solomon for the dusky maid of verse five in the opening chapter.

And taken simply as that, a love song, its beauty thrills the heart.

Who wouldn't love and be loved like this?

Our professor of Old Testament at Ouachita Baptist College may have been correct in stating that we were too young for him to teach from this portion of scripture.

The young lovers in "Romeo and Juliet" were willing to die for their love.

But as we see here, we must be willing to live for our love.

To endure.

The Reformation Study Bible notes that we find three qualities of love between a man and a woman revealed here: self-giving, desire and commitment.


What a thing it is to have experienced such a love.

Who can live these qualities to perfection?

There is One who can and does perfectly love.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Serious As a Heart Attack

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1

In one of our songs, there is a line that goes: "In the blink of an eye, a new life began; in the blink of an eye, you're free from all the pain."

My friend Camille posted a blog entitled "What Should I Fear."

http://hurricane-camille.blogspot.com/2016/11/what-should-i-fear.html

There is an implied implication here (I believe) to consider the question personally.

On June 14, 2014, I began to suffer a heart attack.  It began as a weak, slightly sick feeling while I was doing yardwork at GPC.

I drove home, crawled into my recliner and took an Alka-Seltzer for what must have been the worst case of indigestion ever.

The nausea and pressure abated somewhat but returned in a few moments.

I've had worse (broken bones trump all that indigestion stuff), but I still wondered what I might do to obtain relief.

The minutes ticked by and the pain seemed to ebb and flow, but also to center more on a oppressive weight on the chest.

It was when a sharp pain up and down my left arm commenced that I became truly concerned (okay, okay, you can call it fear!)

My first thought, as I recall it, was: "So this is what it's like to die."

We Christians have this quaint habit of seeing God's hand in everything because, well, His hand is in everything. And I began to pray.

"To live is Christ, to die is gain," said Paul and his words rang in my ears and calmed my spirit.

The fear didn't kick in until I thought of my wife and daughter.

"Oh God," I began to pray, "if this is your will for me, then be it so; but O Lord, for the sake of my wife and my daughter, would you spare my life for a while longer?"

And the pain stopped immediately and I did laps around the house.

NOTTT!!!!!!

I went to the ER, was loaded aboard an ambulance and taken to Paducah where the excellent doctor in the hospital there placed two stents and sent me home in a couple of days.

And so God spared my life for a while longer. Some of His purpose in this have been apparent, some has yet to be revealed.

I recently heard a pastor say that when we come to worship, it doesn't begin when the pianist starts to play and congregation becomes still, but we are only joining worship that is already in progress and the spiritual world becomes part of our material world.

The real reality of heaven has become ever more real and present in my thoughts when my wife passed over and when I reflect on the praise and worship she is most surely engaged in.

And I think, "So this is what it will be like to die."

And I ask, with my friend Camille: "What should I fear?" 





Thursday, October 6, 2016

Happy Birthday

                  Joyce Wanda Tolar
                  b. October 3, 1960


Do they celebrate birthdays in heaven?

Surviving another 365 days upon this wicked earth truly is cause for congratulation and celebration .

So that when I pass this milestone each year or you awake on your natal day, we exchange greetings, well-wishes and hopes for "many more."

We even gladly endure the birthday spankings (if you are so inclined), though where this perverse custom originated I cannot say.

I will venture a guess that the "one to grow on" symbolizes the pain that accompanies growth.

But what about heaven? Is it useful to count the years in a place where "time shall be no more?"

It is useful, though, isn't it, for we who remain to recall and celebrate the lives of those whose lives have so touched ours. Fond memories, tears and laughter flood our hearts as we celebrate the blessing of having loved and been loved by these dear ones.

Happy Birthday!

...all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139:16b